Friday, February 16, 2007

Reasons to be cheerful Part 1
I was very gently taken to task by a friend of mine recently about the content of this blog. It was, we agreed, somewhat downbeat in its attitude to life on this small Ireland. Thankfully, the conversation did not extend into one of those 'if you don't like it go back to where you came from' raps that invariably accompany any utterance of complaint on my part regarding the parlous state of the nation. Quite the contrary, the criticism offered was constructive, helpful and concluded with a task to be completed before we next met: A blog consisting of items which make life here worthwhile or at least bearable. It was hard at first, but once I started, begob didn't they just pour out.

Here's a sample in no particular order:

Dublin Taxi Drivers

Anyone notice, lads?

I love these guys. Almost policeman like in their ability never to be there when you need one, they've put up with a lot of shit from the 'de-regulate everyone but our mates' government over the last few years. This has barely put a dent in their cheerful demeanour and willingness to put themselves out for a fare. I especially like the ones that suffer from geophasia between Lord Edward St and Crumlin Road. Makes getting home less of a journey and more of an expedition worthy of Rider Haggard into the lesser visited parts of West Dublin.

Being shifted on a Friday night
Not so many years ago a regular feature of my Friday nights on the tear was finding myself pulled into a doorway by some woman who had been ignoring me all night to engage in a wet and slobbery chardonnay-scented snog. This would often be accompanied by an admonition along the lines of 'It doesn't mean you're getting a ride, yeh know.' Even though it often did mean precisely that. As I've moved to the further end of the age demographic those days have gone thankfully. I have passed from the 'desirable when enough drink's been taken' category into the 'amazing you still have all your own teeth at your age' slot. In the late evening having had my fill of porter I can now concentrate my efforts on persuading a jolly taximan to chauffeur my arthritic old bones home in time for a cup of Horlicks.Mmmmmmm!

The cafeteria at IMMA
In the bad old days, I used to be able to recover from my hangovers by lounging quietly in the corner of the beautiful courtyard of this 17th Century hospital. I could realign myself with sobriety while having a coffee and a cigarette and contemplating the generosity of one of my ancestors in bestowing such an
architectural gift to the nation. Since the cafe's removal to the cellar, I now avoid both an unhealthy exposure to the elements and simultaneous consumption of those deadly drugs nicotine and caffeine. The chairs are really much better for my posture too.

Admin Staff @ DCU

I used to work at Trinity College, the last major bastion of Ascendancy elitism on this island. One of the doubtless vestigial characteristics of that heritage was the sense that non-academic staff (secretaries, porters, librarians, security staff, and so on) genuinely felt that their role was to help and support you in the institution's avowed task of educating students. After a term at DCU, I realise just how much of a dinosaur Trinity is in the Ireland of today. Not a bit of that forelock-tugging, obsequious Uncle Tim-ism for our administrators and support staff. Indeed no, it's not their job to help you educate the young effectively. Just what their job is often, it would seem, for them to know and you to find out. Learning that I should not expect to be treated like Lord Mountcharles has been of incalculable value to me over the last few months in understanding how far this country has come in shedding its post-colonial shackles.

Evening Fixtures: One more step on the road to nationhood

The Kildare Nationalist might not agree with me but they're just a bunch of culchie naysayers. The erection of floodlights at Croke Park, the home of our real national games, must rank as a feat comparable to Mussolini getting Italian trains to run on time. Unlike other Irish infrastructural projects not only did it come in on time but, as I'm given to understand, also on budget. Neither, would it appear was a single consultant given a fat sinecure during the planning stage. We should seriously consider handing over the running of the country to the GAA (Sorry, didn't we already do that?). The only drawback is the Republic of Ireland's next home game will now be visible.

Honesty in unexpected places
Best typified by the English-trained health worker at the Mater Hospital who, when interviewed by Newstalk 106, described his colleagues as 'amongst the best medical staff in the world' and the service they worked in as 'amongst the worst in the world.' Such honesty was doubtless followed by a fast taxi to Dublin Airport and the sound of doors failing to catch his arse on the way out.

I love 'em one and all. When they're not murdering each other in drug wars or smoking dope on the top deck of the 77 bus before throwing the back seat out of the emergency exit, you couldn't ask for a nicer bunch of people. They like their locals local and their parishes parochial. As a visiting friend from Liverpool once remarked after a trip to my local local ' Eh Liam, I thought you said dis town was friendly, dis place 'as the atmosphere of an open grave.'

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